Book Description (Amazon.com)
David Long’s portrait of Saudi Arabia depicts the kingdom as one of the least understood countries in the world. Encompassing all facets of Saudi life—the land and people, their religion and culture, the country’s history, politics, economics, and foreign policy—the book presents scholarship in a highly readable narrative. Drawing upon extensive firsthand experience, Long depicts the often contradictory impulses of a country committed both to modernization and to the values of a traditional society. Alongside his discussion of oil and the Saudi economy, for example, is a chapter on the annual Hajj, or pilgrimage, to Makkah, a subject about which little has been written in English but one that is far more important to the millions of Muslims worldwide than the kingdom’s oil wealth. At every turn Long looks at issues from a Saudi point of view as he explores the kingdom’s successes, failures, and, most of all, its remarkable resiliency in response to the pressures of social change.